Prior to the inception of the internet, it was basically impossible to find any realistic depiction of the Native American, First Nations, Metis and Inuit people anywhere, let alone any kind of map of the many historical Native American tribes by region. (Even well after the dawn of the information age, it remained quite a daunting task, as any of us who remember searching for such information in the pre-wikipedia years can attest to.)
Obviously, none of this was by accident. The systematic genocide and subsequent erasure from (‘revising of’) history of those original aboriginal cultures (and the reasons it is truly one of the greatest tragedies in history) is a subject we’ve touched on before. The extent and gravity of the loss is still widely unknown to the majority of humans alive. Yet it happened, and the pieces have only recently begun getting put back together.
Aaron Carapella, a self-taught cartographer from Warner, Okla. and founder of TribalNationsMaps.com has been a major contributor to this restoration. Following years of intricate study, legwork, and networking, not only has he created one of the first truly, historically accurate maps of the original Native American tribes by region (his continental U.S. map of the Original Nations has over 600 Tribes alone), he’s done so for numerous other countries as well.
Below is a depiction of North America, as it originally was:
And here’s Mexico:
He’s also created similar Tribal Nations maps for Canada, Alaska, Central America, South America and the entire North American continent, along with several custom and regional maps.
Carapella identifies as a mixed-blood Native American himself, and has long been involved in Native American causes, having invested well over a decade’s worth of time, research, travel and consultation with Native American Elders in order to get the many intricacies of the massive project correct.
Indeed, it is the palpable level of painstaking, in-depth detail that went into these maps that sets them apart from most other attempts — one example being their inclusion of both the original tribal names and their commonly-used counterparts (many of the latter being derogatory in nature).
Needless to say, it is an endeavour that should be widely lauded and shared. Not only is Carapella aiding in the resurrection and preservation of the knowledge of these original cultures — as well as a return to the correct terminology for them — he’s providing the world with an essential puzzle-piece necessary to the healing so desperately needed by the descendants of all involved.
Ask any psychologist– past traumas cannot be buried. They must be fully looked at, accepted and transcended if they are to be healed. Not only are these maps an incredible look at the old-world very few of us are familiar with (you’ll find it in very few, if any, history books, even to this day) they are a mirror we all need to peer into.
You can view all of the full-size maps, map sets and prints for sale, as well as download the most comprehensive list of Native American tribes in existence (with a fully searchable excel spreadsheet) at the official website.
All images copyright Aaron Carapella. Shared here with permission.